Matthew 6

This is intended as a general condemnation of ostentation and parade in acts of virtue and religion, there being subsequently three distinct applications of the principle; in v. 2-4, to the subject of charity to the poor; v. 5-15, to prayer; and v. 16-18, to fasting.—Before men; ostentatiously, seek applause.

Sound a trumpet; make a parade, or endeavor in any way to attract the attention of others.—Synagogues. These edifices, and the courts connected with them, were used for various other purposes, besides public worship.—They have their reward; the praise of men, which is what they seek.

Closet; any place of retirement.

Vain repetitions; long prayers full of sameness and repetition, and made through ostentation or spiritual pride. Protracted seasons of devotion, in extraordinary emergencies, or in seasons of great trial or suffering when the soul is earnest and sincere are not condemned. Our Savior himself sometimes spent the night in prayer.

Hallowed be thy name; may it be revered,—adored.

Debts; sins, offences. Cherish towards us, in view of our sins, the same feelings that we cherish towards those who offend us—a fearful prayer to be offered by those who indulge in an unforgiving spirit.

Lead us not into temptation; suffer us not to be exposed to heavy trials or afflictions, or to strong temptations to sin.—Amen; a Hebrew word, signifying, originally, so let it be.

Fast. When oppressed with grief, we have little appetite for food. Hence fasting is the natural expression of grief. If unfeigned sorrow for sin do not accompany it, it is of no avail.—Hypocrites; false pretenders to piety.—Disfigure their faces. Paleness and emaciation, and an air of dejection, are the consequences of long abstinence from food. The hypocrites endeavored, in various ways, to assume such appearances.

Anoint thine head; that is, as usual; this being then customary among the Jews. The meaning is, do nothing to make an outward display of penitence and mortification.

Moth and rust. The treasures of wealthy persons, in ancient times, consisted of accumulations of property in their own hands, much of which was of a perishable nature. (Josh. 22:8, Luke 12:16-19.) Hence moths, rust, and thieves, were then the sources of insecurity. In modern times, the dangers to which property is exposed, are still greater, though of a different kind.

The light of the body; that is, the instrument or organ on which the body depends for light.—Single; in a healthy and perfect state.—Full of light; fully supplied with light.

Evil; defective or diseased.—If therefore, the light, &c. The meaning of the whole passage is this: As the whole body is in darkness if the light of the eye be extinguished, so, if the perception of divine truth is lost, the whole soul is involved in the deepest spiritual ignorance and danger.

Hate the one; that is, be indifferent to him. The word hate is frequently used in a sense analogous to this.—Hold to the one; be devoted to his service:—Despise; disregard.—Mammon; a heathen deity, supposed to preside over riches. The idea is, you cannot serve God and also fix your hearts upon this world.

Take no thought; be not anxiously solicitous.

Cubit; a measure of length, of about a foot and a half. The meaning of the expression is, that those hidden causes on which the growth and vitality of the body depend, are under God's control, not under ours.

Cast into the oven; with other dried herb used as fuel.

The kingdom of God and his righteousness; that holiness which will make you a member of Christ's spiritual kingdom.

The morrow will take, &c.; add not to the cares of to-day by anxious solicitude for the morrow. Each day brings with it cares enough of its own.

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